, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 153-159
Date: 05 Nov 2008

Identification of invasion specific splice variants of the cytoskeletal protein Mena present in mammary tumor cells during invasion in vivo

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We have studied the gene expression pattern of invasive primary mammary tumor cells using a unique in vivo invasion assay that isolates the invasive tumor cells by chemotaxis. One of the genes upregulated in the invasive tumor cells is Mena, an actin binding protein involved in the regulation of cell motility. There are multiple known splice variants of Mena accounted for by four alternatively included exons, +, ++, +++ and 11a. Using the in vivo invasion assay in rats and mice with mammary tumors we observed that two isoforms of Mena, ++ and +++, are upregulated in the invasive tumor cells and one isoform, 11a, is downregulated. The Mena isoform switching pattern described here may provide a new biomarker for the presence of metastatic cancer cells and for prognosis.